Universiteit Leiden

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'A great thesis on a highly topical theme'

Miriam Cohen will defend her PhD dissertation entitled “Reparations for International Crimes and the development of a Civil Dimension of International Criminal Justice” on 28 June 2017 at Leiden University. She wrote her thesis under the supervision of Professor L.J. van den Herik and Professor C. Stahn.

Her research looks into the development of a civil dimension of international justice and whether it can exist within the ethos of international criminal proceedings. It investigates whether this dimension should be integrated in the international criminal process or whether a separation of these mechanisms is preferred; in this latter case, it inquires whether other mechanisms, such as domestic civil litigation and/or administrative mechanisms, such as trust funds, should be the way forward.

The goal of her research was to examine whether, and to what extent, international criminal justice should be concerned with a civil dimension, by which justice theories it is guided, how this dimension is best shaped and how it should further develop. In this light, her thesis starts by looking at punishment and reparation through the analysis of the interplay between retributive and restorative or reparative justice theories. It then examines the leading International Criminal Court (ICC) decisions on reparations and dwells upon whether some aspects of criminal justice (e.g. standard of evidence, rights of the accused, prosecutorial discretion, etc.) give rise to tension concerning the civil nature of reparations. Building on domestic experiences, case studies and criminal law theories, her research hopes to provide a fresh outlook on the question of reparations for victims of international crimes, in international criminal proceedings and beyond.

Miriam pursued her PhD research while working full-time as an Associate Legal Officer at the International Court of Justice.

She has been an Assistant Professor at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University, in Canada since 2015. She recently received competitive research awards from the Canadian Bar Association Law for the Future Fund, from the Foundation for Legal Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in Canada, for her ongoing research projects. She has published her scholarship research in leading academic journals and books. Beyond her academic work, she is a member of the legal team in a case before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Supervisor Prof.dr. L.J. van den Herik about Miriam Cohen

"Miriam has written a great thesis on a highly topical theme. It is truly impressive that she has managed to finish such a good PhD thesis in a relatively short period of time, while also occupying a fulltime position at the ICJ (and becoming a mother!). I look forward to seeing her career path rising further from here on, with plenty of excellent publications already on the horizon and by contributing to international proceedings, such as at ITLOS. I am very proud to have been her supervisor."

Miriam Cohen

“Pursuing research at Leiden University was an incredible experience for me, both personally and professionally. I learned more than I could have ever imagined: the commitment to research excellence, the devotion of Faculty and peers, the resources available to researchers contributed to an all-round outstanding learning experience. Working with Professor L. van den Herik and Professor C.  Stahn was inspiring on all levels. They have been instrumental in the development of my research, through an ongoing discussion of ideas, arguments, and by providing crucial mentorship and support along the way. I am deeply indebted to them and to Leiden University for their support. It has been both an honour and a pleasure to be a PhD student at Leiden.”

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